My daughter is an only child. Due to reasons outside the control of my wife and I, she will remain an only child. This is something that is neither positive or negative, it just is. However, it is something that people feel the constant need to put their own personal commentary on. Completely unsolicited and generally unwanted commentary. It’s rarely friends that do this. It tends to be acquaintances,
obscure family members, or my personal favorite… complete strangers.
I also want to note that none of these are made up. Every single one of them has been said functionally verbatim to either me or my wife…
10 Things Not To Say To The Parents Of Only Children
10. “Your Daughter is Going to be Lonely All the Time “
We all get lonely, I have a brother and a sister, and I don’t think that removed all traces of loneliness from my younger life. Furthermore, I will be teaching my daughter that she can find great companionship in this world that was not given to her by the womb of her mother, and she also can enjoy many activities by herself. It would really be odd if I told a parent with multiple kids that their kids “would feel crowded all the time.” Yet, somehow the inverse is a foregone conclusion.
9. “She will be spoiled.”
Thank you for your utmost confidence in my parenting skills. I have met spoiled only children, and have met spoiled siblings. The idea of spoiling a child is a ridiculous thing to attach to how many kids are in a family. If parents let their kid/kids run rampant, give them anything they want, and don’t treat them to respect others then they will be spoiled kids. I try to teach my daughter to appreciate the world she lives in, and the things she has. Most of the time I think she does very well with this. Does she have spoiled kid moments? Of course. However, it is not the product of no siblings… it’s the product of her being a child.
8. “Oh, you’ll change your mind”
This really goes back to the idea that you do not know people’s situations. My wife and I cannot change our minds. It isn’t our minds that absolutely don’t want more kids. To be reminded of this randomly by people is extremely frustrating. The truth is this. We may have had another child, and we may not have. However, having that decision taken from us is a very sensitive topic. So as much as I appreciate your shots at my indecisiveness, I assure you my mind has been made up for me. This also is very closely related to my next one…
7. “You are going to regret that with only one kid/at your age” (Post Vasectomy)
I don’t talk about my vasectomy very often. Mostly, because it isn’t exactly a topic that makes great casual conversation (“Yeah, great weather we’re having… did I mention that time they took a knife to a very sensitive part of my anatomy?”). Still, on the occasions that it does come up for whatever reason, someone will usually remark that I was too young for the surgery, or I would regret it later. I got the surgery because my wife cannot get pregnant due to severe health risks. So no, I will not regret removing the joy of “life threatening pregnancy” from our relationship.
6. “The best gift you can give a kid is a sibling.”
It’s Christmas morning, and the family is gathered around the tree… Little Suzie just opened up “The Rise and Fall of Oscar the Grouch: A 7 Part Mini-Series” or whatever absurd thing she wanted. But wait, Suzie! There is one more present for you! Suzie begins to unwrap her last gift, and what’s inside? A baby brother! Suzie is overjoyed! She always wanted one of these! Suzie plays with the baby for 72 seconds, and then is more interested in the box he came in.
The point is kids aren’t gifts to other kids. That’s just weird. Presenting another child as a gift is a really odd way of looking at it, and probably a little unhealthy. It frames younger siblings as “owned” by older siblings. I can’t imagine that is going to go over very well for younger child’s psyche down the line.
5. “Only children all turn out weird”
All of them? Every single only child in the history of the planet has turned out weird? That seems reasonably unlikely. Besides, if normal is telling people you hardly know, exactly how their kids are going to turn out; then I will risk having the weird kid. The social ineptitude that comes with this declaration is mind boggling. It places this forgone conclusion of oddness on my kid, like there is absolutely nothing my wife or I could do to stop the process of “weirdness”.
4. “Don’t you want one of each?”
First, even if I wanted one of each, I don’t see how having another kid would guarantee that. If the next kid is another girl do ship her off to Timbuktu to keep the “one of each” dream alive? Or do I now have to have two boys in a row to maintain the perfectly balanced see-saw of child rearing? God forbid I get three girls in a row, we won’t be able to stop procreating until we have enough kids to start our own baseball team (complete with a full relief rotation). Second, kids aren’t Pokemon, we aren’t trying to collect the whole set.
3. “Are you guys trying?”
Just say it. Just ask the real question here… You want to know if I am banging my wife. In fact, not only are you asking if I am banging my wife, you are curious about how often we are banging, and why. Are we banging enough that it would qualify as baby making banging, or are we just banging for fun from time to time and maybe even using protection? Is this a little uncomfortable to read? Yeah… it’s a bit uncomfortable to answer too.
2. “It’s not parenting until you have more than one kid”
This is so incredibly offensive. My daughter is the best part of my world, and I do everything in my power to be the best dad I can. When she was in the hospital I was there every night after an 8 hour work day. I’m up early every morning to get her ready for school/daycare, and if she cries at 3 AM I am right there to hear about her bad dreams and tuck her back in. I play with her, hang out with her, and try to help her grow and learn. I give my little girl every minute that I reasonably can. My main goal for as long as I am able, is to give her all the chances I can at a great life.
To have someone call what I am doing “not parenting” is extremely insulting. Is having more kids harder? I am sure that it is. I don’t doubt that keeping track of two or more little humans is a harder job than handling one. That being said, I am as much of a parent as anyone else on this planet, and I have no tolerance for being told otherwise.
1) Anything to the Kid
Everything else on this list I can handle, and only get a little annoyed at worst. I know people don’t know any better, and generally aren’t being malicious. However, if you want to get me angry very quickly, then direct this kind of stuff at my daughter. I have had people ask my daughter if she’s “Ready to be a big sister?” or tell her to “Ask mommy and daddy for a brother or sister!”
My daughter is three years old. She cannot understand the reasons that she is an only child yet, and to put us in a position where we randomly have to talk about it on a family day out is infuriating. After someone says these things to her, she will spend the next twenty minutes asking my wife and I if she is going to be a sister, or she will get hyper focused on her friends and their siblings. We explain things the best we can, but it’s an extremely emotionally draining conversation. Furthermore, it usually ends with her at least a little bit upset. In short, if you are going to be rude and obnoxious to someone, at least have the common courtesy to do it to me or my wife. We’re adults, we can just tell you to screw off.
People’s family structures are very personal, and shockingly they may not want to talk about it with you. I am sure a lot of these could be easily tweaked for people without kids as well. The bottom line is this, you don’t know other people’s situations. Your questions or statements do affect people, and it’s important to realize that when you ask them. Especially on topics as sensitive as family.
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